The Flavors of Aloha Cooking with Tommy Bahama – Cookbook Review

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I received a free copy for my honest review. This post contains affiliate links.

Flavors of Aloha Cooking with Tommy Bahama
Image courtesy Tommy Bahama

About the Book:

Breathe in and smell the sweet spice that rises from hillside sugarcane. Rich soils, tropical sunshine, and blue skies make the land fertile, while the sea—never far away—bathes the coast in shimmering aquamarine. Surfing was invented here, and beneath the ocean waves swim the fish that have long provided sustenance to locals and visitors alike.

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At Tommy Bahama, we have always revered Hawaii for its connection between culture, a sense of place, and its food. We aspire to create those same authentic connections in everything we do—from designing swimwear and clothing to creating accessories and gifts. Today, with Tommy Bahama restaurants throughout mainland America, Hawaii, and Japan, we also have a special connection to what we eat. And we want to share it with you.

This is the first in a series of Cooking with Tommy Bahama books. It’s a mouthwatering collection of 100 recipes. Selected signature recipes for the Tommy Bahama restaurants, developed under the auspices of our Director of Culinary, Don Donley, have been adapted for this book. Flavors of Alohatells the story of Hawaii through its food and the people who produce it. The Island community is home to indigenous Hawaiians and Asian and European immigrants. Together they have created a unique confluence of cultures: a panoply of cooking traditions. It’s no wonder the art of the table has made Hawaii a culinary paradise—one that draws liberally from afar yet remains grounded in local custom.

tommy bahama
Image courtesy Tommy Bahama

Recipes pay homage to these diverse origins and include selections such as Tuna Poke with Guacamole and Flatbread, Steamed Sea Bass with Ginger Dipping Sauce, Guava-Glazed Baby Back Ribs, and Korean Steak with Ssamjang Dip. Desserts like Pineapple Crème Brûlée, Kona Coffee Flan, and Jelly Malasadas (Portuguese doughnuts) continue to seduce the palate at the end of dinner or as a midday treat.

As you turn the pages, you will also come to know the people who supply ingredients for great Island dining. They include longtime coffee farmer Tom Greenwell, cattle rancher Keoki Wood of Parker Ranch in Waimea, eco-farmer Steve Sakala of Honaunau EcoRetreat and Farm, and chef/farmer Stennis Hirayama, now executive chef at Tommy Bahama’s Mauna Lani restaurant. Each of these talented individuals has a special relationship with the natural bounty of Hawaii. Their experience gives them an insider’s understanding and perspective, which we are delighted to share with you.

We ask you to sit back, relax, and explore Flavors of Aloha at your leisure. The images are meant to inspire. They reflect a unique culture of dining and the provenance of what we eat. Our recipes are designed for home cooking. They are approachable and filled with natural, good-tasting ingredients grown as Nature intended. This book reflects the spirit of aloha (peace) and ohana (home). Ultimately, we hope to bring a sense of place to your dinner table, wherever it may be, with meals to nurture you, your friends, and family for years to come.

E´ai k?kou! (Let’s eat!)

For more stories you can read excerpts on our Live the Life blog

My Opinion:

I can’t remember how many trips I’ve taken to Hawaii but it remains one of my favorite places – the Big Island in particular. When I saw this brand new cookbook, The Flavors of Aloha, Cooking with Tommy Bahama I knew I would want to get my hands on it. Since it arrived I find myself picking it up to page through the beautiful photos for they are stunning. They take me back to many of the places I visited on my vacations. This is more than just a cookbook, it’s also a storybook.

The recipes are broken out in pretty standard order; appetizers, soups and salads, poulty, meat, seafood,  – but then it ventures into offering meals based on the elements of water, air, earth and fire which is a fun twist. Most of the recipes have an Oriental twist which is not surprising given the ethnic makeup of the Island. The ingredients needed are not that wild and crazy and look to me to be easy to source. They rely on lots of fresh fruits and vegetables in a lot of cases which mirrors what I found when we went out to eat on our trips to Hawaii. The instructions are clear and there are lots of photos of the finished dishes – something I always appreciate in a cookbook.

If you would like to take a trip to Hawaii and enjoy its foods without getting on an airplane The Flavors of Aloha will give you a small taste of what you would find. The photos can take on a paper vacation of sorts as you await your meal.

You can purchase The Flavors of Aloha at Tommy Bahama

There were so many recipes that called to me from this gorgeous cookbook. I know that I’ll be cooking from this one over and over again. I chose to demonstrate a favorite chicken dinner that I’ve had out at a Japanese restaurant and also cooked at home. The dipping sauce is what makes this meal and the one included in this cookbook was very tasty!

Chicken Katsu with Umami Sauce

Chicken Katsu with Umami Sauce

Serves 4

Umami Sauce

1/2 cup tomato ketchup
3 TBS Worcestershire sauce
2 TBS sugar
2 TBS mirin or sweet sherry
2 tsp peeled and minced fresh ginger
1 garlic clove crushed through a press

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, about 6oz each
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup all purpose flour
3 large eggs
1 cup panko
Vegetable oil for frying

To make the sauce: Whisk all of the ingredients together in a medium bowl. Divide among 4 ramekins.

flatten chicken
One at a time, place a chicken breast half between two plastic bags. Using the flat side of a meat pounder or a rolling pin, pound the chicken until about 1/2 inch thick. Season the chicken with the salt and pepper

breading station
Spread the flour in a shallow bowl. Beat the eggs in a second shallow bowl. Spread the panko in a third. One at a tie, coat the chicken in the flour, shaking of the excess.
Dip on both sides in the eggs and coat evenly with the panko patting th panko gently to adhere.

breaded chicken
Transfer to a platter. Let the chicken stand for about 10 minutes to set the coating.
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 200°. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with a wire rack.
Add 1/4 inch oil to a very large skillet.

frying chicken
Heat the oil over medium high heat until shimmering. In batches, without crowding, add the chicken to the oil and cook, adjusting the heat so the chicken bubbles steadily in the oil without browning too quickly, until the underside is golden brown. About 3 minutes.
Turn the chicken over and brown the other side, about 3 minutes more.
Transfer to the wire rack and keep warm in the oven while cooking the remaining chicken.

Chicken Katsu
To serve: cut each chicken reast half crosswise into 1/2 inch strips. Transfer each to a plate and add a ramekin of the sauce for dipping.

Chicken Katsu with Umami Sauce

To go with the chicken I made sushi rice and roasted green beans. The Umami Sauce was really good; the ginger gave it a nice bit of heat and the other ingredients came together to really complement the crunchy chicken.

I used one Zaycon Fresh chicken breast for this meal and it fed us for this dinner and there was enough left over that I made chicken parmesan the next night. They are really that big! They will be going on sale Monday for $1.69/lb! You can stock up and plenty of delicious chicken for your family! If you use my affiliate link I receive a small commison: I am beyond happy with this chicken.

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